Treaty Regime Aspects Regarding the NRO Satellite and/or it Parts Returning to Earth in Another State-Party’s Territory

February 15, 2008 at 4:56 pm | Posted in Space Law, Space Law Current Events | Leave a comment

by Joanne Irene Gabrynowicz with blog faculty

If the NRO satellite that will be shot down, or any of its parts, return to Earth in another State-Party’s territory the applicable space law treaty regime provisions are:

1. Duty to Notify

The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement), Art.5(1): “Each Contracting Party which receives information or discovers that a space object or its component parts has returned to Earth in territory under its jurisdiction or on the high seas or in any other place not under the jurisdiction of any State, shall notify the launching authority and the Secretary-General of the United Nations.”

2. Duty to Recover and Return

The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement), Art. 5(2): “Each Contracting Party having jurisdiction over the territory on which a space object or its component parts has been discovered shall, upon the request of the launching authority and with assistance from that authority if requested, take such steps as it finds practicable to recover the object or component parts.”

Art. 5(3): “Upon request of the launching authority, objects launched into outer space or their component parts found beyond the territorial limits of the launching authority shall be returned to or held at the disposal of representatives of the launching authority, which shall, upon request, furnish identifying data prior to their return.”

3. The Right to Assistance

The Agreement on the Rescue of Astronauts, the Return of Astronauts and the Return of Objects Launched into Outer Space (Rescue Agreement), Art.5(4): “Notwithstanding paragraphs 2 and 3 of this Article, a Contracting Party which has reason to believe that a space object or its component parts discovered in territory under its jurisdiction, or recovered by it elsewhere, is of a hazardous or deleterious nature may so notify the launching authority, which shall immediately take effective steps, under the direction and control of the said Contracting Party, to eliminate possible danger of harm.”

Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention), Art. XXI: “If the damage caused by a space object presents a large-scale danger to human life or seriously interferes with the living conditions of the population or the functioning of vital centres, the States Parties, and in particular the launching State, shall examine the possibility of rendering appropriate and rapid assistance to the State which has suffered the damage, when it so requests. However, nothing in this article shall affect the rights or obligations of the States Parties under this Convention.”

4. The Right to Compensation
Convention on International Liability for Damage Caused by Space Objects (Liability Convention), Art. VIII (1): “A State which suffers damage, or whose natural or juridical persons suffer damage, may present to a launching State a claim for compensation for such damage.”

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